Why do Videos go Viral?


The Harlem Shake, Ice Bucket Challenge, Running Man and most recently The Mannequin Challenge. All these are crazes that started on YouTube and became worldwide phenomenons via social media.

But why did these become so popular? What makes people dancing to a nineties hit, or pouring a bucket of icy water over your head, become a thing that millions watch on Twitter on their lunch breaks?

Most of them have a universal factor about them, meaning they can be built upon and adapted:

For example, here is the original Harlem Shake video:

Compared to one from an American university:

These challenges can be personalised to suit you, your friends and other participants, whether its location, costume or amount of people in it, they’re very customisable. Same thing with the Ice Bucket Challenge; the size of the bucket can vary as can the surroundings, and there was an initiative: Raising money for charity.

One of the beauties of social media is that video is very shareable, once someone sees something they like, they’re more likely to share it with their friends, if it strikes a chord with one, they show it their friends, it strikes a cord with two or three, they share it, five or six people like it, and the ball’s rolling.

Part of the appeal is the length of these videos; typically they’re short, usually about 30 seconds, making them easy to watch when you have five minutes to spare, or if you have a couple of hours, to watch in bulk.

Above all else, these should be fun to do, something to organise with your mates and use it as an excuse to have a laugh with them.

Who knows what the next viral craze will be?